Vaidiks & Vedic Religion

Vishal Agarwal vishalagarwal at HOTMAIL.COM
Sun May 9 21:38:31 UTC 1999

Dear Mr. Abbas,

Except for the questions on Arya Samaj, I think others in this forum can
answer your other questions better than I can, because my native area had a
strong Arya Samaj influence and my family often adopts their rituals in
ceremonies although we are not Arya Samajists. Besides, I have read most of
the 66 books of Svami Dayanand and am familiar with most of their early

The Aryas consider themselves as Vaidiks and hold that their interpretation
of the Vedas is the correct one. Basically, they accept the 4 Veda Mantra
Samhitas (Shakala Rigveda, Madhyandina Yajurveda, Saunakiya Atharvaveda and
Kauthuma Samaveda) as axiomatic and all other Vedic literature as secondary
authority. They absolutely reject all the Puranas, Tantras, Agamas, all
Smritis except the 'non interpolated portions' of Manu Smriti, all modern
schools of Vedanta, etc. and look at all texts presumably composed 'after
Sage Jaimini' as spurious or devoid of much authority. Their liturgical
texts use the Samskaravidhi (an anthology of Vedic texts for use in Gryha
Rituals) as the basis. The Aryas emphasis on social reform and place a great
importance on the use of reason and logic in religious matters. They hold
that before the Mahabharata war (which they believe occured in the 32nd
Cent. B.C.E.), all humans beings were Hindus and Sanksrit was the Universal
Language. They reject idol worship, pilgrimages, fasts etc. and believe in
performance of Agnihotra etc. I have not come across any Arya Samjist who
can recite the Vedas in the traditional manner (although there might be
some) but there are many amongst them who are quite adept in the Vedangas
(except Kalpa in the traditional sense). They believe that animal sacrifices
are a modern innovation invented by crafty Brahmanas and reject all those
rites which enjoin such practices.  The Arya Samajists probably account for
less than 2% of Indians but their influence has been much greater than their
numbers. For instance, the Aryas played a significant role in the spread of
the Khari Boli dialect of Hindi (the standard Hindi these days) and lead
Suddhi movements to uplift low caste Hindus and convert Non Hindus to

As for Agarwals, we claim our descent from King Agrasen of Agreya (modern
Agroha in Hissar district of Haryana). Tradiition states that he ruled a
city state approximately 200 years after the Mahabharata War. He promoted
trade and commerce and every new entrant in his kingdom was supposedly
gifted a coin and a brick by all the citizens so that he could construct his
house and start his trade. It is said that all his 16 sons refused to
succeed in preference to Trading activity, giving rise to the 16 subcastes
of Agarwals. Some gotras of this community are Goel, Gupta, Garg, Jindal,
Singhal, Kansal, Bansal, Vaish, Varshneya etc. Every year, at the occassion
of the Agrasen Jayanti, a procession is taken out by the Agarwal community
in most towns and cities of North India. The procession is lead by a
painting of 'Maharaja Agrasen' who is depicted as an old Emperor with a
dense white beard. Philanthropists of the community have been funding
excavations at the supposed cite of the city of Agrasen and this has yielded
bricked structures, seals, coins etc,  The Govt. of India issued a
commemorative stamp 2 decades back which showed a coin, a brick and a
picture of King Agrasen.

I first encountered traditional Vedics at Poona where I lived for 6 years.
My immediate neighbours were Srotriya Rigvedins who could recite the Sakala
Rigveda completely with movements of head etc. They also performed rare
rituals relying on the Kalpasutras of Asvalayana but used only printed
texts. Close to my house was the Veda Pathashala of Guru Ghaisas where the
Rigveda was taught. At the 75th Birthday of the Guru, scholars of all the 4
Vedas  (mainly from Maharashtra) were invited and I had an opportunity to
listen to their recitations. The Atharvanic recitations did not last long.

About 7 years back, the Visva Hindu Parisad had invited Vedic pundits from
all over India and organized the recitation of Vedic texts at Prayag. To my
knowledge, about 1300 showed up and surprisingly, there was a good
representation from North and North Eastern India. My Uncle recorded the
entire event and I think it covers 23 videotapes of 3 hours duration each
although I did not get a chance to see watch any. I once met Sri Ashok
Singhal (of VHP) at his house and was informed by him that extensive
researches conducted by VHP revealed that oral traditons of 12 Vedic
recensions have survived and that VHP has established schools of 50-60
students each where these 12 extant traditions are being taught. Every year,
my Uncle invites more than a dozen Rigvedins from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka
and Tamil Nadu and organizes a recitation in his anscestoral house around
the time of the 'Magha Mela' (January).




From: Samar Abbas <abbas at IOPB.RES.IN>
Subject: Vaidiks & Vedic Religion
Date: Fri, 7 May 1999 03:33:54 +0000

On Thu, 6 May 1999, Vishal Agarwal wrote:
 > Agrawals ... are not Vaidiks. Most of us are
 > Vaishnavas

- What would be tha castes that are Vaidiks ?

- Are the Arya Samajists classed as Vaidiks ?

- Are Vaidiks the followers of what is known in Western text-books as
   `Vedism' or `Vedic Religion' ? Most books claim that the Vedic religion
   is dead in India. Is it possible it survives amongst the Vaidiks ?
   If so, then Vaidiks would be followers of the oldest religion on Earth.

- How many Vaidiks are there in India (rough %) ?


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